MGM Springfield Is Approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved an $800 million plan for an MGM casino in downtown Springfield. This is the first full casino license in Massachusetts history, though a slots parlor has been approved for the racecourse at Plainsville.
The gaming commission had a two-day review of the plan, then voted 5-to-0 to approve the license. In announcing their decision, the commission described the plan as “ambitious”. Final approval will not be given until Friday. Finalization of the plans depends on MGM Resorts agreeing to all conditions offered by the Gaming Commission in its review of the plan.
Impact on Downtown Springfield
The MGM Springfield will be an $800 million resort casino found in the downtown portion of the city. Mike Bello of the Boston Globe says plans are in place to have retails stores and restaurants surrounding the complex. MGM Resorts and the city leaders of Springfield want the area to draw foot traffic.
MGM Springfield released a statement on the work they have done already with Springfield’s political leadership. The statement read, “We are very grateful and excited that Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and his Advisory Committee have chosen MGM Springfield to move ahead in the process to bring a world-class entertainment, retail, and dining resort to Downtown Springfield.” The statement went on to thank the mayor and his staff for their leadership in the Commonwealth gaming license approval process.
Affect on Local Economy
MGM Springfield already has a number of local ties. This includes a seasonal sponsorship agreement with the Majestic Theater of West Springfield, along with a marketing agreement with Six Flags New England. The company has deals in place with several local municipalities: Agawam, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Holyoke, Ludlow, and Wilbraham. MGM’s role in the casino development has been endorsed by over 2,500 local businesses.
The new casino development should bring over a thousand new jobs to the area. Those in Western Massachusetts interested in finding employment can visit the “Career Opportunities” page at the casino’s official website. Besides the entry level positions, MGM Springfield says it will be hiring management professionals in the areas of administration, legal, finance, engineering, and hotel operations.
Affect on Regional Gaming Industry
The announcement of the MGM Springfield is likely to bring a sense of dread for the big Native American casinos of Connecticut. Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun have been struggling before a big new rival appeared in Western Massachusetts. MGM Springfield is likely to erode their customer bases to a much larger degree.
For the past several years, the customer base traveling to the Connecticut casinos from New York state has slackened. Pennsylvania provided casino gambling which drew many customers away. Now, New York is prepared to build 4 casino properties at strategic locations across the state. This should further saturate the market.
With the New York numbers down, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have relied more heavily on the customers from the Boston area. The Springfield casino will be about an hour and a half away from Boston, via car. Ledyard and Uncasville, Massachusetts are about one hour and 45 minutes away. Though 15 minutes either way might not seem like that much, one has to ask themselves why they would drive a half-hour out of the way to go to casinos they might have seen before.
MGM Resorts Won’t Pay Immediately
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission decided to delay payments by MGM Resorts, pending a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court must decide whether it voter referendum to repeal a longstanding state casino law is going to appear on the November ballot or not. If the court rules one way, then all legal hurdles will be cleared and no referendum will be needed.
Radio station WBUR and MassINC Polling Group conducted a poll on whether residents of the state believe a 2011 casino law should remain in place, or be allowed on the ballot. 52% of those polled say they want to have a casino referendum, while 39% opposed having such a ballot question. The remaining 9% answered “Don’t Know/Refused”.
On the question of whether Massachusetts voters want casinos or not, 49% said they approve of casinos, while 39% said they did not.
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